In case this burning question was ever bothering you, I thought I'd post the answer here. We have been doing some research on this here at Chez McGrew lately after I noticed in Middle Daughter's science book a diagram that seemed to mean that when salt dissolves in water the ions of chlorine and sodium actually get separated from each other and surrounded by water molecules. So, I wondered, why is dissolving salt in water still considered a physical rather than a chemical change (if the salt is really broken down into its sub-molecular components), why does the salt water still have the property of being salty to the taste, and why do you get the salt back when you reverse the process by evaporating the water?
The answer is apparently that there are such things as semi-associated states of ionic molecular compounds. Evidently the ions of chlorine and sodium are, despite being separated and individually surrounded by water, still associated within a certain distance by their respective charges. This allows them to snap back together into a crystalline solid state when the water is evaporated.
To make things even more interesting, evidently our subjective sensation of a salt taste is caused by the separate effect on our taste buds of the sodium and chlorine ions, not by a single undivided molecular substance called "salt." Hence a certain amount of dissolving actually has to take place in order for us to taste salt at all.
It's my impression that not all compounds (e.g., not sugar) dissolve to this extent in water, but salt is one that does.
See here and here for a Q and A about this.
Now, didn't you always want to know that?